After reading the article, “The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall, I got to know about different sets of manners in different cultures. At the same time, I too came up with many questions and doubts about the author balancing his article. No doubt the writer has presented us varied set of manners in his article, but very often his American idea of manners seems to dominate over other cultures’ notion of manners.

In the very first paragraph, he says, “Americans are shocked when they go abroad and discover whole groups of people behaving like goops—eating with their fingers, making noises and talking while eating.” As soon as I encountered this sentence, my perception towards the writer changed. I had thought that I could go alongside with Hall in his article and share his opinion. Conversely, I thought it was impossible after having encountered this sentence. Once a student of Sociology and Anthropology, I was excited to read this article and was eager to learn many things about people’s manners in varied atmosphere. The practice of using fingers while eating may seem weird to many Americans, but it seems to be a casual thing in many South-Asian cultures. So being a South-Asian, I felt quite dissatisfied with Hall, comparing “Goops” and those eating with fingers. However, I was consoled when I re-read the sentence and found him saying, “…, making noises and talking while eating.” While it may be a bad thing for Americans to talk while eating, it may not sound so serious for other cultures unless people try to talk with their mouth full.

Despite this, I am quite impressed by Hall’s minute observation and comparison of our daily habits among different cultures. I am alarmed by his mention of time and space in different cultures. I think it is very essential for us especially, who have to deal with students and teachers from different cultures. On being conscious of this fact after reading Hall’s article, I came to infer that the whole set of manners depends upon the type of culture one grows up in.

Though dissatisfied with Hall’s American point of view on some issues of manners, I admit that it was both knowledgeable and informative to read his article. After reading his article, my perception towards people’s behavior around me have changed. I no more dislike them for their manners; instead I take it as a result of cultural variation.

One Response to Manners

  1. Dear Munna,
    I enjoyed reading your article. Like you, I was also dissatisfied with the author in the beginning. However, after reading the full article, I also learnt that our manners depend upon the culture we are grown up in. One culture differs from another culture; as a result, one’s manner also differs from others’. Moreover, it also depends upon the time and situation one is brought in. Many manners that our grandparents think is not appropriate may seem appropriate to us. There is no one to blame for this. Instead, it is due to the change in time and difference in cultures as you said.

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